Intel has quietly removed language about Xinjiang from a letter addressed to its suppliers, following a huge wave of public condemnation against the U.S. chipmaker that prompted it to apologize to the Chinese public, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Intel sent the open letter, which asked its suppliers to not source labor, products or services from Xinjiang, in December. After conservative Chinese media in late December discovered the letter on the Intel website, the company found itself facing a public outcry on Chinese social media. A Chinese Intel brand ambassador announced promptly he was ending his partnership with the chipmaker amid the controversy.
The public denouncement prompted Intel to issue an apology on Dec. 23, in which the company emphasized that the letter didn’t intend to declare a stance on Xinjiang, and instead was written merely to comply with U.S. law. The Wall Street Journal on Monday found Intel had since lifted the part in the letter where it required its supply chain didn’t use “any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”
For transnational tech companies such as Intel, any public reference to Xinjiang or a business plan involving Xinjiang today could put them in a tricky political situation. On Dec. 23, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that bans all imports from Xinjiang. Meanwhile, an increasing number of transnational companies have recently come under fire from Chinese state media, social media and consumers over toeing the U.S. line on products, labor or services from the region.